Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tomatoes Breaking Color and Ripening!

My tomatoes started breaking (changing color) in the middle of August.

Black Prince was the first tomato to break color on August 12th (80 days after transplant)

Of course, this was the same week I had planned a trip to San Diego to visit my family. Three of the Black Prince tomatoes actually ripened within a week of the first tomato breaking. I made my husband take a picture, then pick them since they were getting overripe.

Black Prince tomatoes ripening on the vine on August 20th

I was only away for six days, but of course, this was when the weather finally started warming up (breaking 80°), so the other tomatoes also started breaking. When I got home on August 23rd, all of them were breaking. 

More Black Prince tomatoes breaking on August 23rd

Cherokee Purple tomatoes breaking on August 23rd (89 days after transplant)

Tomatoes on the first Black Krim plant breaking on August 23rd (90 days after transplant)

One tomato on the second Black Krim plant breaking on August 23rd (90 days after transplant)

One Jaune Flammé tomato breaking on August 23rd (41 days after transplant)

The week's harvest of Black Krim (on bottom left, including the bright red one), one Jaune Flammé (top left), three Black Prince (top left), two Cherokee Purple (top right),  and dozens of Sun Gold tomatoes on August 26th

The two Black Krim plants are producing different colored tomatoes. Tatiana's TomatoBase shows Black Krim tomatoes to be dark reddish-brown when ripe, like the ones in on the bottom left of the photo above. However, all the tomatoes from the second Black Krim plant are bright red when ripe, some with green shoulders. I grew both of these plants from Burpee's Heirloom Tomato seeds, and their photos show some bright red tomatoes. I was a little surprised by the variation in shape for the Black Prince, but I wasn't expecting that much variation in the color for any of the heirlooms. 

Cherokee Purple starts off pink with green shoulders, then turns golden-orange, then dark reddish-purple. It's not only beautiful (if you can overlook some catfacing) but tasty too!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What's Blooming and What's Confused

It's now August, and the Tinos lilies are finally blooming, along with the bee balm (Monarda didyma 'Jacob Cline').

Tinos lilies and Monarda didyma 'Jacob Cline'

Tinos lilies

Tinos lily

Stacked bloom on Monarda didyma 'Jacob Cline'

The hydrangeas are also just now blooming even though they should have started blooming in late May/early June. We have one lacecap and two mophead varieties. They were already planted when we moved in, so I don't know the varieties for sure, but I think one of them is 'Nikko Blue'. 

Hydrangea macrophylla ('Nikko Blue'?)

Buds on the other mophead hydrangea

The same buds become blooms a few weeks later

Blooms on the lacecap hydrangea

More blooms and buds on the lacecap hydrangea

The rhododendrons should have bloomed in April and May, but the buds are just now forming on mine. 

Rhododendron ponticum 'Variegatum'

Flower buds on the Rhododendron ponticum 'Variegatum'

Flower buds on a 'Cunningham's White' Rhododendron

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bigger Fruit, Catfacing, Cracks, and Kuato

By August 2nd the tomatoes are almost full size on the Black Prince, Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, and Jaune Flammé heirloom plants.

The biggest tomato on the Black Prince is now 3.5" in diameter

The newer tomatoes on the Black Prince are also heart-shaped and round as well as oblate.

By August 2nd the largest Jaune Flammé tomatoes are 1-1.5" in diameter.

By August 2nd the Cherokee Purple has 13 tomatoes, and half are 2" or larger in diameter. 

The Cherokee Purple has a lot more catfacing and splitting compared to the other varieties, so its fruit seems more susceptible to damage when the weather is cool. Only one or two tomatoes on the Black Krim and Jaune Flammé show hairline splitting. 

Large crack and catfacing on one of the largest Cherokee Purple tomatoes

Severe cracking on a Cherokee Purple tomato after heavy rain

The first Black Krim plant with 10 tomatoes that are at least 2" in diameter  

The second Black Krim with 17 tomatoes that are 1"-2.5" in diameter

The megabloom on the first Black Krim now looks like a smaller tomato within a larger tomato, kind of like Kuato from Total Recall.

First Blush on Sun Gold Tomatoes

My Sun Gold tomatoes are finally blushing! We'll be eating tomatoes picked fresh from the garden in the next week.

The first tomato blushing on the first Sun Gold plant on July 29th

Two days later the tomato is golden-orange, and two more have also started turning yellow.

The first tomato blushing on the second Sun Gold plant on July 30th.

The tomato is golden-orange just three days later, when two others have blushed.

I couldn't wait and picked the first orange tomato off the first Sun Gold on August 1st. I let it sit on the counter for a day to ripen before I had to eat it.  It had a smooth texture, but the flavor wasn't very sweet or strong. I don't think it was really ripe yet. I'm leaving the others to ripen on the vine before we eat them.

This first Sun Gold was transplanted on May 21st, so its days to maturity (DTM) was 72 days, much longer than the 55-60 days indicated on most seed packets and websites, probably because of our cool weather. I noticed the first fruit set on this plant on July 2nd, when they were about 2 mm in diameter, so it takes about 30 days from fruit set to almost ripe fruit given our weather conditions. 

The lower three trusses full of fruit on the first Sun Gold plant

By August 2nd this first Sun Gold plant has 83 tomatoes on it, and 48 of them are 3/4" to an inch or more in diameter. All four Sun Gold plants have 177 tomatoes total. They would have had more if I hadn't accidentally pruned off the growing tips on two plants. In the future I'll leave 3-4 main stems to grow, so we'll get more fruit like on this plant.